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Layers Y’all! I love them, they are a light traveler’s best friend. Truly, they are and lemme tell you why.

Layers serve several purposes for the carry-on traveler:

  • Layers of lightweight knits help provide extra warmth
  • Layers help you deal with changing temperatures during your travel day
  • Layers give your travel outfits a more finished look
  • Layers expand your travel outfit options
  • Layers can add color, texture and pattern to your neutral travel wardrobe
  • Layers will help you pack light even even if you are traveling in multiple climates

Layers of lightweight knits help provide extra warmth
If you follow the packing light principles of carry-on travel then you will be packing lightweight knits. A light top or sweater alone may not be enough to keep you warm but when layered with another thin knit then you will have a little more warmth going for you. Read my Guide to Cold Weather Layering for a more detailed explanation of how to layer functionally for cold weather.

This is a better option than packing one big bulky knit because that will only have one use in really cold weather. Two lightweight knits still provide warmth but can be more versatile because they can be worn separately and combined with your other travel pieces to make more travel outfits. It’s just simple #traveloutfitmath.

Layers help you deal with changing temperatures during your travel day
Layers help you dress for weather changes during your travel day. When you leave your hotel or hostel in the morning with all day plans you want to be ready for whatever changes in temperatures that may come your way and layers help with that.

The temperatures may warm up during the day and if you are out until the evening you can simply stash your lightweight layer in your bag and bring it out again at night if necessary. Or if you are traveling in warm climates with cool nights you’ll want to keep a lightweight cardi handy to layer on top of your summer travel outfit.

Layers give your travel outfits a more finished look
Layers just look nice y,all! They give your outfits a more finished, put together look.
But don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you have to bulk up on the layers.

If you are layering for fashion, then the general rule is to layer with 3 pieces (your top, your bottom and a third piece). Third pieces can be non-clothing items like scarves or necklaces if you don’t want to overdo the layers.

Do you ever wonder why some stores have sales staff that just look fab and you can’t quite put your finger on why. Well, most likely it’s layering and some stores even require staff to abide by the 3 piece layering rule.

Layers expand your travel outfit options
Let’s do some travel outfit math real quick. One bulky sweater can only be worn with whatever bottoms you’ve packed and one piece of outerwear. Not many options there.

Two lightweight layer-able pieces can be interchanged with other tops and layering pieces in your travel wardrobe to significantly multiply your outfit options. Base layers can always be worn on their own as well.

Layers can add color, texture and pattern to your neutral travel wardrobe
If you want to add color to your neutral travel wardrobe you can add it with your layering pieces. Top neutral base layers with mid or outer layers that have color or pattern or both. Or you can have colorful base layers that are topped with neutral colored layers. The choice is really up to you and your style.

Either way layers let you change up your travel looks. You can also choose to keep your layers Monochromatic or in the same shades of one color, just vary the texture a little if you go this route.

Layers will help you pack light even even if you are traveling in multiple climates
Packing light for multiple climates is one of the hardest types of trips to prepare for. Layers will enable you to still pack light and travel comfortably through multiple climates. If you are traveling between cold and warm weather the key is a good lightweight wool base layer, this instantly winterizes any travel outfit.

You’ll also want to have a versatile core capsule of 8 pieces and a mini capsule for whatever differing climate you’re traveling to. For more about that read my Guide on How to Plan a Mix and Match Travel Capsule.

Grab my worksheets so you can plan your own layered travel outfits!

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Layering myths

If you’re hesitant to try layering let’s address that.

Layering will make me look bulky:
Not so my friend. The key is to stick to lightweight knits and avoid chunky, thick materials. Also start with a slim base layer so your shape is still somewhat apparent but not totally revealed. Another bulk busting option is to belt your outfit to show off your waist.

Layering is hard:
Yes, I admit layering can get tricky when you try and do advanced fashion styling. But it truly can be as simple as wearing a sweater over a button down and adding a scarf. An easy and simple layering formula.

I’ll go over some style considerations to keep in mind when layering and then you can layer away, baby! Check out my Layered Travel Outfits-Fall/Winter and Layered Summer Travel Outfit Pinterest Boards to see some examples.

In short, layers are a traveler’s best friend.

Styling Considerations of Layers

Before we get to how to layer clothes for travel there’s a few styling considerations. Layering doesn’t have to be too difficult but you should pay attention to a few details to get it right.

  • Thin knits are key
  • Proportions
  • Necklines
  • Make sure if you have to remove a layer your outfit still works
  • Pay attention to the volume and weight of your layers
  • Sleeves matter
  • Textures
  • Layer for the weather
  • Top Layers should complement bottom layer

Thin knits are key
The one way to pull off a layered look without extra bulk is with thin knits. You can add a little bulk but save it for your outermost layer. Inner layers should be made of lightweight thin materials so you don’t end up looking like the Michelin Man.

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Proportions
Pay attention to the proportions and differing lengths of your layers. It’s ok, to have differing lengths and proportions. You can have short over long or long over short layers as long as it’s done in a purposeful way. Trust your mirror and your instincts. Look to Pinterest for ideas on advanced layering that play with proportions.

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Necklines
The necklines of your layering pieces should complement each other. Don’t mix different necklines like a high neckline base layer and a low neckline sweater or your layering will look a little off. Just try and get your necklines to play well together. A scoop neck base layer will give your the most versatility.

Make sure if you have to remove a layer your outfit still works
The beauty of layers means that you may have to peel off a layer (or two) if temperatures warm up. You’ll want to plan your outfits so that they can stand on their own even without the top layer.

Choose a base layer that complements your body and bottom layer. I’ve tried to layer around shirts that were too slim fitting (ie. hellooo, muffin top) and have been stuck wearing my warm layer to conceal an unflattering outfit. Not pretty. But I’ve learned that I can layer with slightly looser base layers that skim but aren’t skin tight. Choose what’s right for your body type and style.

Pay attention to the volume and weight of your layers
There’s nothing wrong with wearing layers that have volume. I mostly only wear voluminous tops and tunics (see muffin top note above). They key is to layer either a complementary voluminous mid-layer on top or add some structure to the volume by topping with a slightly structured jacket or coat.

So you can layer a drapey cardigan over a flowy tee. As long as the proportions and volumes complement each other – you are A-OK. Or let’s say you have a flowy tunic or Anthropologie type blouse, top that with a lightweight trench or parka. This will still complement the flowiness and add a little structure at the same time. The only thing is, that while your layer can have volume it should still be a thin, lightweight knit.

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Sleeves Matter
Some tops work better for layering than others and that’s due to sleeves. Bulky sleeves will give you a lumpy look if you layer another lightweight knit on top.

Other sleeve issues to account for are embellished sleeves and button tabbed sleeves. You can still layer over these items but it would only work with a structured top layer where the sleeve details won’t bulge through.

Textures
Differing textures may add interest to your layering game. Just make sure the textures complement each other. For instance a linen blend tee and a lightweight cotton blend cardigan will complement each other. A sheer layer and a chambray layer don’t quite mix.

Top Layer should complement Bottom Layers
When planning your layered looks consider how they will pair with your travel bottom layers. For instance voluminous top layers work well with skinny jeans or leggings. Snug top layers complement skinny bottom silhouettes or skirts or wide legged pant styles.
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Layer for the weather
Layers lend themselves to better to Fall, Spring and Winter Travel. But don’t neglect layers during your Summer or warm weather travels. Airports and airplanes are cold, you’ll want at least a cardigan and maybe a summerweight scarf to keep yourself comfortable.

In warm climates you may often find that once you step inside a restaurant or store the AC may be cranked up to keep customers cool and happy. A layer might prove itself handy so you don’t freeze. Lightweight summer scarves, ponchos, denim vests and kimonos are good summer travel layering options.
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How to Layer for Travel

Step 1 – Start with your base layer
Step 2 – Add your Mid-Layer (if necessary)
Step 3 – Add your Top/Outer Layer (if necessary)
Step 4 – Coordinate with bottom layer
Step 5 – Accessorize

Grab my worksheets so you can plan your own layered travel outfits!
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So, finally how to layer for travel. Here we go – in this post I’ll give you some general layering guidelines. If you are looking for purely functional layering tips for cold weather travel, check out my Guide to Cold Weather Layering.

Also for the examples in this post I’m only going to refer to layering your top half. There’s not too much layering you can do on the bottom part of your outfits other than skirts/dresses and leggings and maybe a sock and bootie combo.

You can work from the outside in, by building your layered outfit with your outerlayer as a starting point. Or you can work from the inside out and begin with your visible base layer and add to that. For this example we’ll work from the inside out.

Step 1 – Start with your base layer

Your base layer can be as simple as a lightweight tee shirt or tank or as dressy as a blouse or button down. Your base layer can also be a dress. Choose a base layer that is free of any embellishments that might make it look awkwardly bulky if you layer a sweater on top. If you layer a jacket on top, embellishments are fine because they won’t bulge through the fabric of the jacket.

A structured base layer like a button down will make your layered outfit look a little more dressed up. The more structure your layers have the more “tailored” and structured the look.

Remember that working with lightweight knits and fabrications are what will keep the whole look from appearing too bulky. If you do have a bulky layer it should be the outermost layer.

Pay attention to the fit of your base layer. Your base layer should be fitted or slightly loose but not too voluminous unless you have a complementing voluminous outer layer.

Step 2 – Add your Mid-Layer

Add a mid-layer if necessary. Sometimes a base and outer layer is all you’re going to need. However, in colder weather or when you expect temperature fluctuations during your travel day you might want to consider wearing a mid-layer.

Your mid- layer could be a cardigan or pullover sweater in a complementary neutral, color or pattern. Cardigans come in all forms so choose a style that complements the neckline of your base layer.

Also choose a mid-layer that works best with your bottom layer. Remember loose and drapey cardigans will look best with slim pants or jeans. Form fitting cardigans work well with dresses, skirts and bootcut or wide legged pant/jean styles.

Pullover style sweaters are great for colder weather and when you don’t necessarily want to show off your base layer. Button down shirts pair well with pullover sweaters because the collar and maybe shirttail hem that peek through add a bit of interest to a plain pullover sweater look.

Step 3 – Add your Top/Outer Layer

After you’ve got your base and mid-layers set literally top off your look with your outerwear if necessary. In warmer weather an outer layer may not be needed.

If you wear an outer layer, choose a style that can fit easily and comfortably over your base and mid-layers. A neutral color is easier to match with your other base layers but if you want to go with a statement coat that would work as well.

A coat or jacket is going to be your go-to functional outer top layer. You can also consider a blazer as well. A vest is an interesting layer that you may want to experiment with as well. Vests can be the puffy variety, denim, or more tailored.

Step 4 – Accessorize

One of the easiest ways to layer is to accessorize with a scarf or necklace. A scarf can provide that pop of color or pattern to a neutral base travel capsule.

The accessory layer is a good option in warm weather travel. A light weight scarf can liven up a plaint tank top. I would also consider necklaces a fashion layer and they can take the place of scarves in warmer travel climates.

Are layers always necessary? No, not at all. This is just another method for getting the most out of your carry-on capsule. If you’d like some inspiration check out my Fall/Winter and Summer Layered Travel Outfits Boards on Pinterest.

Grab my worksheets to help you plan out your own layered travel outfits. I also included a travel outfit planner.

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Travel on, Travelistas!

Infographic clothing sources:
Black Pocket Tee shirt, Patterned Blouse,Blue Button Down Oxford
Row 2
Marled Black Cardigan, Black Blazer, Black Crew Sweater
Row 3
Black Parka, Trenchcoat
Row 4
Five Pocket Trousers, Straight Cut Jeans, Black Trousers
Row 5
Fringe Scarf, Gold Black Scarf
Cream Sweater, Cream Tee
Long gray cardigan, light gray tee shirt
Airy Blouse, Short Trench

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Mix and Match Travel Capsule Guide Anyone who’s done research on what to pack has been given the advice to “mix and match!” and establish a “color palette”. Oh Yeah, like it’s so easy!

How often have we looked at a pile of clothes wondering what to pack and ending up packing errything! Not pretty, y’all! There’s a better way.

I thought I’d break down the process of creating a mix and match travel capsule into simple steps you can follow. While the steps are simple, the post is a little long so bookmark it if you have to or download it along with bonus content (that includes some killer worksheets by the way) because I didn’t want to make this post any epically longer than it was already.

But stick with me and hopefully I will take the overwhelm out of this process a little more so that you can confidently pack your carry-on capsule and be a packing light guru yourself one day.

One of the keys to packing light is indeed the mix and match travel wardrobe. It does take a wee, little bit of planning but it does not have to be an overwhelming process. You can approach it in two ways: use a list (or worksheet, like the one I’ve provided) or lay your clothes out or both, whatever works for you. Let’s break it down.

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Step 1 – Check the Weather

The first steps in planning your carry-on travel wardrobe is to write down or at least be familiar with the weather conditions you are packing for. Google it, look in a Farmer’s Almanac, ask a friend – whatever you gots to do, just find out what the weather is like at your destination.

Specifically, be aware of the range of temperatures you should be expecting. For instance, the highs may be comfortable but the morning/evening lows may require outerwear or warm layers. Also check for rain conditions. This is key, so don’t skip this step!

Step 2 – Check your Itinerary

Next, take a look at your itinerary and write down your major travel activities. If you aren’t sure of your activities, no worries.

Just try and generalize what you’ll most likely be doing and estimate how much time you’ll spend doing each activity. So typically you’ll be sightseeing, going out to dinner, beachtime – whatever it may be that you will most likely be doing, write this down.

When you write down your activities, estimate how many outfits you might need for each. For instance, if you’ve got a few nice dinners scheduled during a 7 day trip that may require 2 outfits (or one outfit worn multiple times). Let’s say for this same 7 day trip you’ll also be sightseeing most days then you’ll need enough mix and match items to come up with 7 outfits for your 7 days of sightseeing.

This is not the time to speculate or dream about what you’ll be doing like having dinner with Beyonce or the queen of something or attending the opera or whatever fancy scenario you can come up with. For me, it’s thinking that I will actually work out and run on vacation. I bring my workout gear and shoes and NEVER touch them. So once again, just be honest and very realistic about what you’ll be doing during your trip.

If you have a special occasion or specific travel activity that requires particular clothing lay that out or list it first. This is what I call your non-negotiables. If you’re traveling for a wedding, jeans and flats won’t do, you’ll need to pack whatever is appropriate for that event.

Or if you’ve got some serious hikes planned for your trip, the right shoes are key to prevent yourself from being injured. So take note, of whatever specific, non-negotiable clothing needs you may have for your trip and list them or lay them out.

Step 3 – Build your Core Capsule

One way to put together your travel capsule is to start with a foundation of basics and build from there. I call this foundation of travel basics your “Core Capsule” and it should be around 8 items. You can either lay out or list your items during this process. And, don’t worry you will be adding to the Core Capsule in the next step.

Neutral Base Core Capsule
Now, I could get very deep on the color wheel and color theory when picking out color palettes for your travel capsule. BUT, the packing process can be difficult enough as it is and honestly adding a color palette component can just make it all too overwhelming.

Unless you’re an art major, you really don’t have to know the difference between complementary and tertiary colors, mmkay. If your closet is anything like mine it’s a complete mish-mosh of patterns and colors. So, I recommend you build your Core Capsule on a base of neutral colored clothing or as close to neutral as possible.

You will be adding more items to your core capsule (don’t worry) and that’s when you can mix in different colors and patterns. If you love color and matching and your closet already has an existing color palette then by all means build your Core Capsule around the palette of your choice. If you are looking for some color palette inspo, check out The Vivienne Files for outfits curated with specific color palettes. For this particular example we will stick to a “core capsule” consisting of neutrals and/or basics you have.

Color Selection
The only thing you do have to think about when it comes to color is to be aware of what types of colors are appropriate for your destination. Bright hues might not be the best to pack for your European vacation but they are totally right for more tropical locations. So just do a bit of research about the types of clothing and colors that are suitable for your destination.

Choose Versatile Items
When choosing and editing your options you just want to make sure that clothing can be worn with at least 2-3 other items. Don’t stress about this too much and don’t get too tripped up in the travel outfit math. Yes, it would be amazing to make 97 outfits of just 12 items but most of us aren’t traveling for 97 days.

Focus on getting the most use out of your items but don’t let this be a stumbling block. But, yes the more items that match the better your travel capsule will work for you. The longer the trip, the more necessary it is for all of your clothing items to mix and match, unless you are ok with wearing just a few outfit combinations.

Do not pack “one use” items that can only be worn one way unless it’s for a specific travel activity in your travel itinerary. For example, a dressy dress to attend a wedding is completely acceptable. However, don’t pack that same dressy dress if it’s not for a specific event and when another combination of versatile clothing can perform the same function.

Don’t pack any “Just in Case Items”
Avoid packing for those “just in case” situations. That will lead to overpacking every single time. Pack only for the weather, your travel activities and your destination. Boom! That’s it. Keep it simple!

A few reminders about the best types of clothes for packing light:

  • Pack Lightweight knits
  • Avoid bulky materials
  • Think in layers and choose items that are “layerable”
  • Flattering clothing you like to wear and feel comfortable in
  • Clothes that fit in with your destination
  • Remember to think “versatile” when choosing items

Let’s start with general clothing categories. You can adjust these categories to suit your wardrobe and travel needs.

Outerwear
Even if you are traveling in the summer you may want to pack a light jacket for cool nights. Look at the weather conditions and pick out outerwear that works best for the predicted conditions.

Remember to always wear your bulkiest items in transit. Pack rain gear if it’s appropriate for your destination.

Try and get the most versatile outerwear possible. Sometimes you will have to pack more than one kind of outerwear depending on the type of trip you take and the weather conditions. If you are doing long term travel or traveling through multiple climates you will most likely have to pack more than one type of outerwear.

Prioritize functionality first when selecting outerwear. Sometimes when planning my own travel capsules I account for a functional piece of outerwear along with a more fashionable option. Just determine your outerwear needs according to your trip. By wearing your bulky outerwear in transit you save room in your carry-on suitcase.

My functional piece is generally the Patagonia Nano-Puff and it’s successfully seen me through a number of adverse weather conditions. Best of all, it weighs only 10.5 ounces and it’s so compact and compressible I can literally stuff it in my purse if I’m not using it. I have it in the black color so even in travel situations when it’s my only piece of outerwear it blends in well with the rest of my travel clothes.

Mid-layers
Choose a lightweight sweater, either a pullover or cardigan style. Cardigans are versatile items because you can easily slip them on and off to deal with changing temperatures. Sweaters made of lightweight merino wool aren’t bulky and they are highly insulating. However, in colder weather pullovers do a better job at keeping you warm.

When choosing a mid-layer, check that the color complements with whatever outerwear you’ve selected. Read my Guide to Cold Weather Layering here for more on how to pack for colder climates.

Bottoms
This can range from jeans to trousers to skirts to shorts. Choose 2 options that fit in with your personal style or preference and of course whatever suits the weather and travel activities. It’s crucial that whatever bottoms you select match all (or most) of your tops and your outerwear.

Try and keep bottom silhouettes similar because it’s easier to match with the same footwear. For instance the shoes that work with a wide leg pant may not work for a skinny jean and vice versa. Shoes that work with shorts may not work with jeans. So keep silhouettes in mind and how they will pair up with your travel shoes.

If you will be packing mostly dresses use this category and the tops category to list out your travel dress options.

Tops
Choose whatever tops you find comfortable and that fit in with packing light guidelines above. Pick out up to 4 options that are appropriate for the range of weather conditions of your trip and that can be layered under sweaters easily.

Also look at your travel activities and weather when making your selections. I like to pack 2 lightweight tees (long and/or short sleeve), 1 button down and a blouse. When laying them out or listing them make sure that they complement or match your mid-layer, outerwear and bottoms.

Shoes
This is the hardest category, I know! Read my post on How to Pick the best Travel Shoes for more tips on choosing what I like to call the Travelista Trio of shoes. Keep your travel activities in mind and you’ll want to pack at least one comfortable pair for walking.

Remember wear a pair and pack the other two. And don’t hate me too much for suggesting you bring no more than 3 pairs of shoes! It can be done and this will most definitely make you a packing ninja!

Step 4 – Add in your “A la Carte items” Or “Mini-capsules”

Ok, so now that you have your core capsule you can round it out. Add items that will keep your outfits interesting and increase your options. I call these “A la Carte” items. Some items you may want to add at this point are some statement pieces or strategic colors and patterns. Remember whatever you add still has to match multiple items and be worn multiple ways. Add clothing like blazers, a second lightweight outerwear option, cardigans and dresses or an extra pair of pants or a skirt.

Or, you can add a “mini-capsule”. Let’s say you are planning on going for hikes or to the beach, pack items for those portions of your trip if you haven’t already. Don’t go crazy here, you want to aim for a “Travelista 12” and keep the capsule at 12 items ideally, 15 items maximum (for trips over 15 days). If you have a specific event or clothing need during your trip that’s not included in your core capsule now is the time to add it.

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Now that you have most of your travel outfits established you can add in a few key accessories. A scarf is essential so pick one that complements your carry-on capsule. The same goes for jewelry. Keep it minimal and don’t get carried away with too many accessories. One to three scarves should be plenty, pack a warm one in colder weather. Keep jewelry simple during the day and pack a statement piece for evening. The same goes for handbags. Pack a minimal and functional purse for day and pack a small clutch for evening.

Step 5 – Try Everything on!

Trying clothes on can be time consuming but it’s an important step to make sure your travel capsule will actually work for you. Try on potential outfits for your most common travel activities.

When trying clothes on aim to pick outfits that are comfortable and flattering. You’ll also want to check that items can be layered easily. You don’t have to try on every potential combination because if you’ve planned correctly you’ll end up with dozens and dozens of options (Yay!).

Take pictures on your phone or notes to remind yourself of your favorite travel outfit combos. Also note what you’ll wear during rainy or any other inclement weather if it’s expected during your trip. This would be a good time to choose your airplane outfit as well. Choose something comfortable and always try and wear your bulkiest layers in transit.

Step 6 – Edit

If at any point during or after this process a clothing item or outfit feels a little “meh” and you don’t love it- don’t pack it! Replace it with clothing you do love or don’t pack it at all. If you’re not loving it at home your feelings won’t change while you’re on your trip. Only pack what you love and feel fabulous in. Especially for longer trips, you really want to love every item in your suitcase.

Some clothes just don’t layer well and that’s ok but only for shorter length trips. If some are in your travel wardrobe just know their limitations and that it will reduce the amount of outfits you can put together. If you’re traveling for an extended period of time then you’ll want to find something more versatile.

Step 7 – Shop if you have to

Sometimes when assembling your travel wardrobe you may find you just don’t have the right pieces to build a whole travel capsule around. This is understandable, because unless you have a wardrobe capsule in everyday life, most of us don’t shop with the idea of capsules in mind. I myself haven’t committed to a capsule wardrobe lifestyle yet but if you are interested, blogs like Un-fancy are the place to start.

Try and make due with whatever is currently in your closet, if you do have to shop only buy the essentials. One or two classic pieces can bring your travel wardrobe to life. Invest in a well-fitting pair of jeans or trousers or a skirt or leather jacket, whatever the wardrobe workhorse is for you.

Your bottom pieces will get the most wear, so if you’re starting with a high quality piece then you can get away with inexpensive tops. Another good buy is a versatile day to night dress if you are a dress person. You can easily change the look of a dress with outerwear, cardigans and a change of shoes. Other worthy travel investments are stylish and functional outerwear and comfortable yet cute travel shoes.

If budget is an issue, stores like Target, Old Navy, H&M, Nordstrom Rack and Gap usually have a great selection of classic and on-trend pieces that are affordable. Ebay and consignment stores are other budget-friendly resource for finding high quality basics.

Do not be tempted to buy items that are so outside your comfort zone that you wouldn’t wear them in real, everyday life. Stick to your own personal style preferences. Maybe upgrade styles and silhouettes but be true to your own style and what makes you feel beautiful!

Step 8 – Pack Sleepwear, etc.

Once you’ve picked out your carry-on capsule. Don’t forget to pack or list your sleepwear and underwear and socks. Pack a few pairs of underwear and plan to hand wash them depending on the length of your trip. Check out my post on How to do Travel Laundry here.

Step 9 – Make a checklist and Stick to it!

After you’ve done all the planning of your amazing carry-on travel capsule, add the clothing items to your travel checklist. If you’ve got time before your trip you can make adjustments to your list and replace items but don’t be tempted to throw in extras. Stick to your list! Don’t panic and add in extras at the last minute!

If your goal is to pack light in a carry-on then trust in your planned carry-on capsule wardrobe of 12-15 clothing items and 3 pairs of shoes. You can do it!!

If you need extra help, grab my worksheets to help you figure out different outfit options for each item of clothing you pack (you can print as many copies of the worksheet as necessary to help you figure out potential travel outfit options). The worksheet even comes with space to list out your final mix and match travel capsule.

Step 10 – Evaluate What worked

After your trip, take a few minutes to note what worked best and what didn’t in your travel capsule. By noting items that didn’t work or didn’t get used you can be more efficient with your next mix and match travel capsule. These notes will help you pack better the next time you travel and before you know it you will be a total packing ninja, hollah! So hold on to these precious notes in an app like Evernote or something similar where you can easily refer to them for your next trip.

I hope this helps you begin your packing process so you don’t leave it until the last minute. Just a little advanced planning can make you a better, savvier, lighter traveler. And, who doesn’t want that?!

Remember to download my Mix and Match Travel Capsule Guide with bonus content, checklists, sample capsules and worksheets that will help you create your own mix and match travel capsule and you’ll get signed up for my newsletter as well (don’t worry, I won’t flood your inbox except when I have extra special travel light tips that aren’t included here on the blog).

Travel on, Travelistas!

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Outdoor festivals and concerts not to mention beautiful blooms in Central Park are just a few reasons why Spring is a great time to visit New York. If that’s what you’ve got lined up, you’ll love this carry-on capsule I’ve put together. Springtime weather in New York can change quickly, which means versatile layers will work best. However, you still want to be prepared for a bit of cold snap and mid-weight and lightweight outerwear should have you covered. Unless, there’s rain in the forecast don’t pack for it because you can always pop into a Duane Reade or buy an umbrella on the street.

This minimal capsule is meant to get you through 7-10 days of travel in New York. Dark, neutral pieces will give you the most day to night options. The statement pieces like the shearling trimmed coat, bomber jacket, coated denim pants and lace up blouse will keep your travel looks from being too minimal. I’ve included a mid-weight coat and light jacket to account for the unpredictable range of spring weather.

Even if the items represented aren’t your style you can take away what the general categories are. Which for this capsule include:
1 Outerwear
1 Light Jacket
1 Dress
2 Sweaters
3 Tops (including a dressy blouse)
3 Bottoms
1 pair comfortable fashion sneakers
1 pair dressy booties
1 pair comfortable booties
Since it’s a pretty minimal list you could probably throw in a few extra items but don’t exceed 15. The most vital items on this list are comfortable walking shoes. You get the most out of New York by walking so make sure you are prepared with good shoes. Also, don’t worry about getting too dressed up unless you have a specific activity that calls for dressy clothes. Upscale casual/casual dressy clothes will work just about anywhere.

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Faux Shearling Coat, Floral Embroidered Bomber Jacket, Black Dress,
Sweater with Pockets, Ribbed Turtleneck, Dressy Blouse (similar here, andhere)
Side Stripe Top, Jersey Top, Coated Denim Jeans,
Skinny Ripped Jeans, Skinny Ankle Jeans,
Leather Biker Booties with buckles, Vans Leather SK8-Hi Slim Zip,
Leather Ankle Booties.

Check out my Top 12 Packing Tips for more packing tips. The key for spring travel is layers, you may get a cold morning that turns into a sunny warm afternoon. Also build your carry-on capsule on a few basics either in style or color and then fill in with color or statement pieces. Here’s a few of the travel outfits you can come up with just the 11 pieces in the Carry-On Capsule.

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I’ve put together a packing light checklist based on this carry-on capsule. You can get it here.

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Here’s a quick Winter Packing Light Travel Capsule to get you through the remaining cold weather. If you need a refresher on how to layer during winter travel, read my thorough Guide to Cold Weather Layering. It’s truly all about smart layering for winter travel. This 11 piece capsule should be used as a guide for planning your own winter travel capsule and could be used for trips from 4 days to 14.

Winter Packing Light Travel Capsule

Outerwear
If you can get by on one piece of outerwear that is ideal for a packing light travel capsule. For longer trips or if you need to put together casual and dressy looks you may have to bring two options. As always wear your bulkiest layer in transit and find the lightest weight coat as your second option. I’m loving big comfy parkas that are functional and cute like this fur trimmed option, Parka. A classic black coat will always look great as well and is perfect for dressier travel outfits, Belted Wool Coat.

Sweaters
Sweaters serve as your essential mid-layer to help insulate you from the cold. Choose two different styles to maximize your travel outfits. Turtlenecks are back in style and they are functional as well. Merino Wool is an optimal fabric for winter because it is lightweight yet highly insulating, J. Crew Merino Wool Turtleneck. An oversize cardigan is great for easy, throw on layering and can function as your outer layer on not-so-cold travel days, Long cardigan

Tops
I love comfortable tee shirt layers for travel. Look for styles that are not bulky cotton, but rather a synthetic blend because they pack down lighter. Go for simple styles if you know you will always layer a sweater on top or look for tee shirt styles with a great drape or details. H&M Black Long sleeve tee, Gray A-line top

To extend your travel wardrobe it’s always a good idea to throw in a dressy top or two depending on your travel needs. For this winter capsule I’ve included a beautiful black blouse that works with well for a dressed up look or paired with jeans for a casually dressed look, Mango Bow neck blouse. A button down is another pulled together but not too dressed up option, Zara Striped Shirt.

Dress
A great travel dress can truly serve as the “hero” piece of your travel wardrobe. Wear during the day with comfortable boots or sneakers and at night with a dressier pair of shoes. Or if your travel activities go from day to night a dress is your best bet. Mango Funnel Neck Dress

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If you’re on the move this holiday travel season use my Fall Travel Capsule Wardrobe to help you pack your suitcase. Pick and choose the elements that work for your trip and you’ll have one less thing to stress about. Here I’ve taken the capsule and put together outfits that coordinate for different occasions. Details for clothing items can be found here. Happy Packing!

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Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. It’s also an ideal time to travel. With temperatures that can fluctuate from warm to crisp it’s necessary to have layers of clothing to stay comfortable. Use my template as a guide and and adjust any items to suit your travel needs and the climate of your destination.

I channeled a bit of inspiration from the 70’s in putting this fall capsule wardrobe together. I also added another outerwear piece to the traditional trench to change the vibe and feeling of the looks. Two pieces of outerwear can stretch the limits on packing light so use your best judgement and wear your bulkiest pieces in transit.

This capsule consists of 11 mostly neutral pieces with bits of pattern and texture thrown in the mix. For more packing light inspiration check out this post.

fall

Trench Coat
You can’t go wrong with packing a trench coat. For ideas on how to style your trench check out my ode to the trench coat here. Zara Trench.

Light Suede Jacket
A lightweight suede jacket can give you just enough warmth to fashionably handle cool evenings. This topper is a great piece to wear when your travel activities take you from day to evening without a break. Suede Jacket.

Long Cardigan
Long Cardigans are trending strongly right now and just about every major retailer is carrying a version of this sweater. It’s a versatile piece that can go with just about anything. For the purposes of this capsule it could go with the dress, jeans, skirts or trousers. In colder weather it can layer under the trench for added warmth. Long Cardigan.

Black Blouse
A simple silk blouse gives jeans a boost and can dress up easily with black trousers. Silk also has the advantage of being super lightweight which is just what you need to pack light. Layer with the cardigan, trench or suede jacket in cooler weather. Silk blouse.

Day to Evening Dress
Finding the perfect travel dress can be challenging if you don’t already own one. It’s worth the effort because a dress gives you the ultimate in pack-ability. Ideally you’ll choose a dress that’s that rare breed that can looks as appropriate for evening travel activities as it does for day. Paisley Print Dress.

Grey Tee
While it is nice to be dressed up when you travel it’s also important to be comfortable. That’s why I always advocate packing at least one tee shirt. Look for tees with nice draping or special details to keep you from looking too casual. Tees can be kept casual with a cardigan topper or dressed up with a blazer or trench. Side slit grey tee.

Flared Jeans
Flared or bootcut jeans are a nice alternative to skinnies. Look for a flattering cut that coordinates with your travel footwear. Flared jeans.

Blue Button Down Shirt
Button down shirts are a classic and easy to style for travel. They pair well with dressy and casual pieces and layer well under toppers. You don’t just have to go for a solid color, plaids and other patterns will add some fun to your travel wardrobe. Blue button down.

Denim Skirt
The denim skirt is having a bit of a revival and I’m adopting it as a travel piece. It can pair up with everything from sneakers to dressier footwear and a pair of tights can extend its wear-ability. There’s silhouettes that vary from pencil to A-line so choose what works best for you. Denim Skirt.

Striped Long Sleeve Tee
A striped top gives you all the comforts of a tee shirt but the timeless pattern helps travel outfits from being too plain. If you’re not into stripes find another pattern or solid color that suits your travel look. Striped top.

Cropped Black Trousers
Black pants with a cropped cut have a modern feel and work well with loafers and surprisingly sneakers. They also offer the basis for a smart travel outfit if that’s what you require. Cropped black trousers. Cropped Black Trousers.

3 Pairs of Shoes
Booties and Sneakers will get you through most of your travel activities. Loafers will help provide a pulled together look. Check out my Pinterest boards for ideas on how to wear your sneakers and booties for travel.

Accessories
Accessories really add the finishing touch to your travel outfits but we are packing light so need to go overboard. Scarves are perfect for travel and if you don’t believe me just read my 12 reasons to always pack a scarf. A lightweight casual scarf is great for wearing in transit and with more casual outfits. A dressy scarf adds a fun touch to a tee shirt or to a blouse. For practical purposes, it’s nice to have a warm and cozy scarf to wrap around your neck on chilly day.

A large tote will serve you well as your airplane carry-on and your day bag to hold all your travel essentials. Choose a tote that’s zippable and can be worn across the body for extra security in crowded areas. A smaller clutch or handbag is nice for evening travel activities. Keep jewelry simple and to a minimum with dainty necklaces and earrings. A wool hat is not essential but it’s nice to have during drizzly, rainy weather. A nice pair of sunglasses, however, are absolutely essential.

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